If you didn’t know, substance abuse is a major problem in minority in communities, in particular African American communities. One of the most popular drugs consumed by African Americans is marijuana. After a decade of decline, marijuana use has steadily increased in America. Research notes substantial increases among adolescents and young adults across the nation.

The problems associated with marijuana use tend to be more prevalent among the youngest age groups. Nearly 75 percent of children and teens (12- to 17-year-olds) who used marijuana on 12 or more days in the past year experienced significant problems related to use. The question is why marijuana use among African American teens is escalating, and what risk does increased use pose for African Americans.

Many users fail to see marijuana use as a major criminal act. However, it is a different story with regards to law enforcement and the criminal justice system. We must always be aware of the racist elements in the “war on drugs” and its relationship between young black men and police forces. Singularly responsible for large numbers of black men being imprisoned, the inordinate rates of arrest and incarceration of people of color are mainly the result of drug law violations.

In California for example, in each of the 25 largest counties in California, African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at higher rates than whites, often two and three times higher, although U.S. government studies consistently find that young blacks use marijuana at lower rates than young whites. In Los Angeles County, with nearly ten million residents, African Americans are arrested at more than triple the rate of whites, while accounting for less than 10 percent of L.A. County’s population.

More important than these disparities is that Marijuana possession arrests have serious consequences and create permanent drug arrest records, that can be easily found on the Internet by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies, licensing boards, and banks.

So what is the reason smoking marijuana is so popular? It has always been so throughout history and among various cultures. But unfortunately, it is being used to add to the rising number of people, particularly young people of color, arrested on marijuana charges each year. It is a sad reality for us as a community, given that an 18-year-old convicted of a felony is most likely at the end of the road for a productive future.                              –torrance stephens, ph.d.

Follow Stephens on his blog http://rawdawgb.blogspot.com/ or https://twitter.com/rawdawgbuffalo

 

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